Before You Buy

The Snowboard Gear Guru Episode 1: Powder Boards

Those weird shapes explained

Paul Vines is a Morzine resident, Kip lookalike and veteran of the snowboard shop floor. In this new video series, he will be talking viewers through some of the key product technologies on the market today – from snowboards and bindings to goggles, GoPros and airbags.

Episode 1 is all about powder boards. Not so long ago, manufacturers were focused squarely on building all mountain sticks that could be ridden adequately (if not spectacularly) across a range of terrain from the park to the backcountry. “A quiver of one” was the mantra. More recently, and led by artisan board builders in the Japanese scene, there has been an explosion of more radical snowboard shapes designed to perform best in one condition only: freshies!

“How can one snowboard designed to ride well in deep snow be super short, while others are crazy long?”

In some ways, the powder board revolution has been a return to the past, with swallow tails and long, directional noses coming back into fashion. But make no mistake, the retro design cues are these days combined with cutting edge materials and technology.

So as a prospective buyer, where do you start? And how can one snowboard designed to ride well in deep snow be super short, while others are crazy long? As PV explains, it’s all about volume. The greater the surface area, the greater the float; but while traditional freeride guns achieve this through length, many of today’s trendier models pack their volume into the width, making for a stubby outline that’s both super maneuverable AND super floaty. Brands like YES have even managed to maintain carving performance on the hardpack via an extreme sidecut that feels great from edge to edge (see the popular 420).

In short then, a good powder board will eliminate back leg burn and make those fabled bluebird days even more memorable. And as more and more of us buy into these surf-inspired shapes, it seems that the “quiver of one” concept has given way to… well, a quiver.

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